I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Rachel Holloway, one of the newest members of our team, to discuss the therapeutic process. Part of that interview was featured in our most current issue of Notes from the Cornerstone, our monthly newsletter. Below, you’ll find extended remarks from Rachel on how we can honor our feelings and grow towards healing.
If you’re always working towards healthy change, you’re always evolving and changing.
Rachel: Yes, I think as humans, we are infinite in the sense that there’s never a point, that it’s like ‘I’m done. I have achieved all that I want to achieve. I’ve learned everything there is’. We have this unlimited ability of growth. Counseling is not simply a means to an end: it’s an Avenue. It’s a growth process.
It’s about making a decision for change: I’m going to go here to fix myself. I’m going to go here to learn about myself and figure out what parts of my life I love and want to continue doing and what parts of my life are no longer working for me that I want to intentionally change to have the life that I want.
And so it all depends on how open somebody is to the process, because a big value in counseling is someone’s independence.
How do you help a person who is seeking help, but is guarded or puts up internal walls blocking their growth?
Rachel: We all have armor, and for a lot of us, our armor is invisible. It’s the way that we lash out at people
if we feel upset or the way that we retreat if we don’t like sometime. That armor can be internal or external. But we all have these warriors inside of us that keep us safe. And so for some, safety might be in wearing bracelets and for others it might be the way they retreat from situations. And sometimes, we have to dig deeper: What feels safe about bracelets or retreating? Processing that and getting to the point.
Every single person has a good reason for being the way that they are. And so I think it’s helping them process through their armor. And if they want to take that armor off, then they can. But knowing that I will not be disappointed if they don’t, because I understand thats were they feel safe.
Is that how you approach the therapeutic process?
Rachel: I practice emotionally focused therapy. (EFT). Dr. Sue Johnson is the one who created it. It’s based out of attachment theory, but also through her own personal experience. EFT is all about how we as humans require love and connection as a basic human need. So just as much as we need food and water and air, we need love. There’s so much research to back it up. Like babies who are never touched and heart conditions and health conditions of people who are in unhappy marriages versus happy marriages and all this stuff.
How can we view our emotions as information? It’s less about ‘stop feeling this way. I don’t want to feel sad, so I won’t feel sad.’ That is a short term solution, because eventually it will get to the point where the person will realize ‘Whoa, there’s so much sadness. Where did this come from?’ It’s like that because it’s been trying to pop up and come out.
Instead, we need to ask ourselves how can we honor our feelings. Instead of holding on tight. If we continue to press sadness down, then it builds up; it explodes out because we can’t hold it anymore. So instead, we grasp our emotions, We evaluate ‘how can I hold them loosely and allow myself to experience them and then let them go’? It’s all about love as a source of connection.
It’s all about the cycle we have, this cycle that we go through and how we get stuck in negative cycles and how we can change it, not by learning to negotiate or learn how to talk better, but more about how we understand one another on a deeper level so that I know you and you know me.
So in relationships, it becomes ‘I understand you, I understand where you’re coming from so I can offer support the way that you need it right now’ as opposed to ‘I’m going to learn how to talk better’. Because the latter is not sustainable. If we just escalated and we’re in the middle of a fight, we’re not like, ‘oh, what did my counselor say we’re supposed to do in a fight?’
So instead, I try to help my clients get grounded. I try to help them grow by helping them understand the roots of their emotions and to accept them.
Thank you for your time Rachel. This was very insightful.
Rachel: You’re very welcome! I love working with and helping others, so any time I can share more, I will!
To read more from Rachel, or to reach out to her, visit her bio page here.